Universiteit Leiden

nl en

PhD defence

Dark Matters

  • S. Noach
Thursday 5 October 2023
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof.dr. C.J.M. Zijlmans
  • dr. N. Timmer


"Dark Matters. Recasting Darkness with Contemporary Latin American Art" foregrounds the largely unrecognized potentialities of darkness through a close reading of six materially dark contemporary artworks from Latin America. It departs from the premise that from the 1980s onwards—that is, in the decades still under the shadow of military dictatorship, forced disappearance, organized crime, and structural racism—artists such as Cildo Meireles (Brazil), Carlos Martiel (Cuba), René Peña (Cuba), Maya Watanabe (Peru), Belkis Ayón (Cuba) and Maria Isabel Reuda (Colombia) developed artworks literally composed of dark matter that defy racist and colonial associations of darkness with irrationality, ignorance, barbarism, and mischief. Their installations and performances in pitch or partial darkness, photographs and prints of black skin or ink, and videos of obscure environments, reveal that darkness more so than having a theoretical and inert existence, flourishes as a vibrant matter that is capable of making things happen and producing effects.  Among other things, this study demonstrates that darkness has the capacity to protect realities that elude capture, generate greater freedom, and resist, interrupt and disturb. It revolves around two complementary research questions: How do specific Latin American artworks recast the notion of darkness? And, to what degree does this recasting convey a counter-narrative to the modern perspective on darkness?

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press enquiries (journalists only)

+31 (0)71 527 1521

General information

Beadle's Office
+31 71 527 7211

This website uses cookies.  More information.